Half a decade ago, a single individual’s shattered heart sparked a chain of events that brought about a significant change in the lives of numerous canines. This individual has now earned a reputation as the renowned “canine savior.”
Scottish restaurateur Michael J. Baines made the move to Thailand 15 years ago after falling in love with the country during a visit with his wife. Leaving their previous home in Sweden, the couple began their restaurant venture in Thailand.
While working one day, a thin and hungry stray dog approached a man in search of food. This encounter changed his life as the dog seemed to communicate her plea for help through her eyes. Upon closer inspection, he noticed that the dog was malnourished and had recently given birth to puppies. He couldn’t bear to see her suffer and began feeding her on a daily basis. This experience sparked in him a desire to help other dogs in distress, as he couldn’t stand to see them suffer.
Baines had an epiphany when he saw the state of the neglected dogs in his area. It was clear that he needed to take action. Thus, he decided to feed the stray dogs every day with dedication and consistency. His efforts involved stopping at 17 different locations, along three different routes, to make sure that each dog received a meal.
On his way to work, Baines made eight stops and fed 30 dogs. After breakfast, he prepared for his second run by collecting food and making eight or nine more stops to feed 30 to 35 additional dogs. Six more dogs were fed outside his restaurant, and four to five dogs were given food on his way back home from work. Baines’ commitment to providing for these dogs has made a significant impact on their lives.
The furry canines are served with a mix of dry food, boiled rice, and vegetable oil mixed with bouillon. Their taste buds are treated with a savory blend of chicken, pork, and fish, all boiled together. To keep these four-legged friends healthy, Baines administers a monthly dose of worm and flea prevention powder. All expenses are funded either through Baines himself or generous donations. In 2003, Baines and his wife, Gill Dalley, established The Soi Dog Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing a safe haven for stray dogs.
Their objective is to enhance the quality of life for dogs and cats in Asia, thereby benefiting both the animal and human populations. They strive towards establishing a pet-free society and ultimately putting an end to animal suffering.
Presently, Soi Dog Foundation boasts a specialized hospital for cats and an advanced hospital for dogs, which happens to be the biggest and most comprehensive in Asia, and likely, globally. The facility caters exclusively to the medical needs of street dogs. Gill’s commitment to her furry companions drove her to spend the last four years of her life designing and supervising the construction of the dog hospital, keeping the promise she made many years back to provide impeccable care for her beloved street dogs.
Baines is still actively engaged with the Soi Dog Foundation, fulfilling his promise to Gill and the stray cats and dogs. He was recognized for his efforts in animal welfare in Southeast Asia by being bestowed with an MBE in the Queen Elizabeth II birthday honors in 2020.